Industry News

Title insurers boost profits in down market

Premiums fell $400 million in 2006, but more written internally

Despite a $400 million drop in written premiums, title insurers boosted net income more than 5 percent in 2006, in part by shifting business from affiliated business arrangements to direct operations, according to a new report by consulting and financial analysis firm Demotech Inc. At 4.94 percent, the industry's loss ratio was slightly better than 2005, but remains near a 10-year high, Demotech said. "All signs seem to point to a continued dampening of title industry results, but not a major collapse, suggesting a more sophisticated market better able to weather market fluctuations," Demotech said in announcing the report's release. At $16.4 billion, written premiums were down $400 million in 2006. But premiums written from direct operations made up 14.4 percent of operating income -- more than double the share in 2004, and the largest share in 10 years. Writing a greater share of premiums internally reduced agent commission expenses while increasing other revenue streams, Demotech...